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Location of new South Hill school still concerns former trustee

Jan Radwanski, a former trustee with Prairie South School Division, emailed city council on Dec. 12 and reiterated his concerns about the Westheath site in southwest Moose Jaw. 
This field at the end of Wellington Drive South is where the proposed South Hill joint-use school will go. Photo by Jason G. Antonio

South Hill resident Jan Radwanski has been opposed to the location of the joint-use school ever since it was announced and still believes there was no true consultation process for that site.

Radwanski, a former trustee with Prairie South School Division, emailed city council on Dec. 12 and reiterated his concerns about the Westheath site in southwest Moose Jaw after council discussed the matter

“Please note: The Westheath location only emerged in a press release on (Sept. 24, 2019) and has not — to date — been presented to the citizens for input in a consultation,” he wrote in his email that he also provided to the Express. 

“There is no reference to this site in the boards’ concept planning session summaries. For city admin to suggest this location had been discussed in concept planning ‘sessions’ is simply not factual.”

The former trustee has spoken to council several times before about his concerns with the location.

Radwanski told the Express by email that he believes the location the Ministry of Education and both school divisions chose contradicts Moose Jaw’s Official Community Plan (OCP), while the community has been unable to analyze that decision. 

A summary from a June 24, 2019, public meeting — attached to Radwanski’s email — looked at 72 responses that attendees submitted for their preference of the location.  

The data showed 17 people preferred the Sacred Heart site, 16 preferred Westmount, 11 wanted Coteau Street West and 10 wanted Currie Heights. Meanwhile, one person verbally suggested farmland west of Spadina Drive Southwest because it had many roadway access points. 

The school’s location is in that farmland, almost where Wellington Drive South and Spadina Drive intersect. 

A news release from Sept. 24, 2019 that Radwanski sent to council announced Prairie South and Holy Trinity Catholic School Division would pursue land at Westheath based on a recommendation from the South Hill School Steering Committee.

In his email to the Express, Radwanski also provided a SurveyMonkey questionnaire — “The SurveyMonkey on their location they did was only on design, not location,” he remarked — that asked people what they thought of the Westheath concept plan. 

“It is important to remember that this engagement is not about whether or not a school should be built in Westheath. That decision has been made,” the survey’s introduction says. “The feedback we are seeking is on the conceptual design and how we could make it better.”

Radwanski added that he received no response from anyone on council about his concerns.

City's comments

During a media scrum on Dec. 14, Mayor Clive Tolley said he received several emails from Radwanski and attempted to respond but was confused about the situation. 

The mayor pointed out that Radwanski sat on the PSSD board while the school boards and ministry chose the spot. 

“I know Mr. Radwanski is being very pro-South Hill and pro-community. And I had some concerns personally about having a great big school rather than small, individual schools,” Tolley continued. “But … obviously, it’s not my job to try and tell them what to do in terms of location or type of school.”

Tolley said he would “eventually” contact Radwanski to discuss the situation as they have many times before. 

When asked whether the municipality should have had input, the mayor said many people should be consulted when a major building is constructed — including the city and its residents. 

Tolley noted that he wasn’t mayor when the groups made their decision, while he wasn’t sure what community consultations occurred. He instead deferred all questions to the school divisions. 

During the same scrum, city manager Jim Puffalt agreed that the educational partners should “have absolutely come and consulted” with the city, which is what the municipality urged them to do. 

However, the positive thing about the project, he added, is it will be “a pretty good deal … all across the board” for the city because the education partners will construct the residential lots at minimal cost to the municipality.

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